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Joe's Fishing Hole:

Courtesy of
The Elko Daily Free Press

Wildhorse is completely covered in ice right now and South Fork is around 15 to 20 percent ice-covered. With cooler temperatures forecast for this weekend and the middle of next week, South Fork will probably be iced over sometime over the next week.

However, all ice at this time should be considered unsafe! As a general rule, Wildhorse ice is not really safe until after Christmas, while South Fork is hardly ever safe before New Year’s and some years even later.

The most dangerous time to be on the ice is at the beginning and the end of the ice fishing season when the ice conditions can change in a heartbeat. What is 4 inches one day may be 2 inches or 7 inches the next depending on winds, water currents, springs or temperature. When we talk about ice thickness and safety, we are talking about hard clear ice, not packed snow, not slush and not ice with lots of air bubbles in it.

As a general rule, if the ice is less than two inches thick, stay off. At four inches, a person can walk on the ice and it should be safe for fishing as long as there isn’t a crowd of people standing together. While the Nevada Department of Wildlife doesn’t recommend taking a vehicle on the ice, it is generally accepted that seven inches or more of new clear ice will support a snowmobile or ATV. No matter what, use common sense and always err on the side of caution.

So have a little patience and give the ice a chance to be plenty safe enough to venture on. We will be putting ice thicknesses when available in this fishing report every week. Or you can go to and look at the fishing reports there for the Eastern Region to check for ice thicknesses.


Wildhorse is completely covered in ice and it should be considered unsafe. Early in the season, while one spot may have four or five inches of ice, six feet away it may be only two inches. Give it another week or so before venturing on the ice.


South Fork is about 15 to 20 percent covered in ice, mostly on the north and east ends of the lake. The west side of the lake was open water as of Thursday (Dec. 14) afternoon. Jet Ski beach had open water, but fishing was slow to fair. Slow for bait anglers, fair for fly rodders. A few fish were being caught in six to ten feet of water fishing nymphs just off of the bottom. Flies to try include hares ears, copper Johns, prince nymphs, blood midges and of course wooly, crystal and seal buggers. Some anglers also report a few fish along Jet Ski Beach using worms and PowerBait. Of course we are talking trout as bass fishing is extremely slow.


Jiggs is iced over with very unsafe ice. NDOW runs an aerator through the winter to keep winter mortality on the fish down making this reservoir unsafe for ice fishing. There won’t be a fishing report until spring.


Water level is good for this time of year with no recent report on fishing conditions. Like many of the area reservoirs expect ice in the coves and it won’t be long until it is iced over. The road should be drying out. The usual PowerBait or worms work well. Gold, green and yellow, or black and yellow spinners are still working. Fly fishermen should be using chironomids, mayfly nymphs or black crystal buggers for best results.


Bass fishing is done for the year and with the colder temperatures expect the south marsh to start freezing over. Fishing in the ditch has been fair to good for trout, though most of the ditch has low clear water. Fly rodders should try the usual assortment of nymphs under an indicator as well as wooly, seal and crystal buggers. Of course the usual small hares ears, PT’s, copper Johns and buggers are all staples in the ditch. Spin fishermen should try small minnow imitators and gold spinners. The collection ditch is artificial lures only and no wading is allowed. As of Thursday, December 14, Harrison Pass was open. It is dry but lots of washboards.


Jakes Creek is iced over with unsafe ice. Give it a week or two before venturing on it.


Approximately 85% ice covered with very thin unsafe ice.


Cave Lake is covered with a very thin layer of very unsafe ice. There is a small piece of open water at the Cave Creek inlet that is fishable.


Comins Lake is completely covered with one to two inches of ice. Consider it very unsafe.


Illipah is now ice covered with approximately an inch and a half of unsafe ice.


The lake is ice covered and the road to Angel Lake is closed. There will be no more fishing reports until late next spring or early summer depending upon winter conditions.


Most of the lakes are iced up and travel is not recommended. There will be no further fishing reports on the high mountain lakes until next spring or early summer depending upon the winter.


With the cold temperatures, the streams are all icing up, especially the slow running pools and beaver ponds. It won’t be long, if it hasn’t happened already, that you will have to go into Idaho to get to the Bruneau River and the Jarbidge River. Many of the streams aren’t reporting flows due to ice. Fishing is tricky this time of year due to ice, snow and mud on warm afternoons. Fish are lethargic due to the colder temps and presentations must be slowed down.

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